Be Active Your Way Blog
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! This month, organizations, schools, worksites, and communities across the nation are celebrating the benefits of being physically active, and the strides we've all made to help Americans move more. During May, take some extra time to enjoy the fun and excitement of being physically active with your friends, coworkers, and family.
How are you or your organization recognizing National Physical Fitness and Sports Month? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute a blog post!
Cross-promoted from the NCHPAD News: Volume 12, Issue 1
Written by: Carol Kutik, Director of Fitness & Health Promotion at the Lakeshore Foundation
Never! Even if you have had an inactive lifestyle, research suggests that you are never too old to benefit from exercise. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that even moderate physical activity can improve the health of older adults who are frail, or who have diseases that accompany age. A substantial number of research studies confirming the many benefits of regular physical activity for older adults helped the U.S. government to report in its 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans that, compared to less active people, more active people have lower rates of all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon cancer, breast cancer, and depression. The Guidelines add that “regular physical activity is essential for healthy aging.” Note the word essential, as opposed to the word suggested.
Despite the known benefits of physical activity, the NIH reports that rates are low among older people. Only about 30 percent of adults between age 45 and 64, 25 percent between age 65 and 74 years, and 11 percent age 85 and older engage in regular physical activity. Physical activity rates for older adults with physical disabilities are even lower. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding adults age 50 and over, approximately 70 percent of those with disabilities do not participate in recommended amounts of physical activity, as compared to 60 percent of those without disabilities.
As older individuals become less active, they begin to lose their ability to perform standard daily living activities and become discouraged and reluctant to exercise, fearful that it will be too strenuous and cause them harm. All too often, decreased levels of both physical function and independence are accepted as natural consequences of aging, leading older adults to believe that exercise is not “for them” and perpetuating the downward spiral. Research from the NIH shows that the opposite is true – that exercise is safe for people of all age groups, and that older adults hurt their health far more by not exercising than exercising.
The following types of exercise are recommended for seniors who want to stay healthy and independent:
The following steps will help guide you in your new exercise routine:
Tags: physical activity, exercise, seniors, older adults
Active Advice | Older adults
It is well known the regular physical activity among aging adults can maintain bone health and decrease the risk of fractures. A new study presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Specialty Day suggests that physical activity and exercise early in life might be equally important.
Bjorn Rosengren, MD, PhD and other researchers performed a controlled exercise intervention among children aged 7-9 in Malmo, Sweden. The intervention group comprised of 362 girls and 446 boys who received 40 minutes of daily physical education at school. The control group consisted of 780 girls and 807 boys who received 60 minutes of physical education per week. The authors collected data on fractures among all participants and assessed skeletal maturity each year.
During the study, there were 72 fractures in the daily exercise group and 143 in the control group. The participants in the exercise group also exhibited higher spine bone mass density than those in the control group.
“Increased activity in the younger ages helped induce higher bone mass and improve skeletal size in girls without increasing the fracture risk. Our study highlights yet another reason why kids need to get regular daily exercise to improve their health both now and in the future,” concluded Rosengren.
This study offers several important messages. First, all of us need to exercise. Even as we get older, we need to take long walks or go for jogs several times a week. Or we can swim, bike, lift weights, or play sports. While bone loss can occur with age, regular exercise can slow its loss. People with healthy bones likely suffer fewer fractures.
A large amount of bone formation occurs in the first two decades of life. As the study demonstrates, activity at these ages can lead to stronger bones that persist later in life. Sports and exercise done as a kid can lead to better bone health as an adult.
Adults should be exercising regularly for themselves. We can also help our children by getting outside and playing with them. Encouraging them to safely play sports and do all types of physical activities is beneficial for the entire family! How do you encourage physical activity at all ages?
Tags: physical activity, Specialty Day, exercise intervention, study
It’s time for a change.You may remember when being older was associated with frailty and rocking chairs, not new careers and adventure travel. A lot has changed over the past 20 years. Older adults today are looking at services and products to help them live a longer, healthier life. For example, the pharmacist Express Scripts recently revealed that older adults now spend more on products to combat the effects of aging—including mental alertness, sexual dysfunction, menopause, aging skin and hair loss—than they do on drugs to treat chronic disease.This increased focus on healthy aging is the catalyst for a multitude of new products and services aimed at helping age 50+ adults achieve a better quality of life. Yet, the most effective tool we have does not come in a pill bottle, requires a small investment of time and effort, and is accessible to almost anyone. I am speaking about physical activity.Research shows that regardless of age, education, and socioeconomic or marital status, you can achieve a significantly higher quality of life if you increase your physical activity levels. Our challenge? Only 21% of men and women ages 25–64 years old meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This percentage declines with age to 14.2% of people ages 65–74 years and 7.7% of those 75 years and older.So, how do we get adults in their 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and older to achieve at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes (1.25 hours) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week? Not to mention the Guidelines’ call for moderate- or high-intensity muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups on two or more days a week.Maybe the first step is to “up the ante.”
Discussing seminal studies conducted with frail older adults at Tufts University in the 1990s, exercise science pioneer Dr. Steven Blair stated: “[These studies] show that you take older adults into the weight room and you push them. They don’t die; they double and triple their muscle strength and throw away their walkers.” He added, “If exercise was going to kill people, it would have killed that group.”So, to reach the Guidelines and achieve significant health improvement benefits, we must challenge older adults to exercise more intensely to become stronger and walk longer. Doing anything less is a disservice to them—and to you. The message we need to absorb is that older people are not automatically fragile.“It’s a myth that older adults are fragile and cannot exercise,” according to Dr. Blair. “Yes, there are frail individuals. Certainly, as you go up the age spectrum, you have more health issues and potential adverse events, but they are still pretty rare. A facility needs to be aware and have an emergency plan in place.”
If we are ever going to help older adults meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, we need to look at what we’re doing and change the way we help people get there.
Tags: physical activity, older adults, seniors, baby boomers
Barriers | Older adults
This page last updated on: 11/04/2009
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